Dear Laura Shapiro,
I read your essay in the New York Times , but I don’t have a phone with a camera in it, so please accept this blog post v. an Instagram of my home cooking.
This is not a recipe. Not really. Not in the written down sense, even when I’m done here writing it down.
Last week, I got a bag of too-crusty sourdough rolls at a deep discount from a bakery. I tossed them in the freezer. Saturday, while I was poking through, seeing what I had on hand before planning my midweek trip to the grocery store, Hmmm – I thought – better use those before I forget…..I took the bag out to defrost.
Sunday morning, I actually read the Baked French Toast recipe I was given as a way to use them up. The recipe was from the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummand.
Although I had the bread, and the eggs on hand (really nice eggs from a friend who raises chickens….Really nice eggs), some other the other ingredients I did NOT have on hand.
One was milk – I’m lactose intolerant, so I don’t keep milk on hand. And then there was the heavy cream…..I keep a little half and half for my coffee….And blueberry season is really over, but pears and apples, with a little prep, could work. That’s when the sugar amounts hit me – ½ cup of sugar, plus ½ cup of brown sugar plus another ½ cup of brown sugar…and then syrup on top?????? That’s a lotta sweet to start the day. Or end it. And at this point I was planning for something suppery.
I did have some buttermilk on hand (Kate’s – real buttermilk, not cultured)
because I was going to make a Chilaquile Casserole variation from Still Life with Menu (p. 177)
with leftover tortillas that I had planned to use in my lunchtime salads until I set one on fire in the toaster oven at work, deciding then never to bring them to work again, at least in living memory of anyone who was there that day. And some shredded taco cheese.
Yes, I had shredded Taco cheese on hand because that’s what they sell at the 7-11 down the street and I wasn’t going to drive over to the grocery just for cheese. No judgement.
So I cubed the bread into bite sized bits, covering the bottom of a non-stick 9×13 pan. I beat my six beautiful and darkly yellowed yolked eggs and added 2 cups of buttermilk, and some salt and pepper. I opened a can of Rotelle tomatoes with mild chiles and added that. Then 1 cup of the shredded taco cheese. Poured it over the bread bits in the pan. Most of the cheese and the diced tomatoes stayed on the top, so I re-arranged them to cover evenly. Put the lid on the pan and popped it into the fridge, went about my day.
At 6 pm I was back, took the pan out of the fridge, preheated the oven to 350° and popped the (plastic) cover off. There are several warnings embossed into the cover reminding you that it is plastic and it should not go into a hot oven. The contents seemed a little dry, so I poured another cup or so of buttermilk on top.
Oven ready, lid off, pan in, timer on for 45 minutes.
Looking good, smelling like eggs and chiles and tomatoes and a little bit of cheese good, tasting just fine. Something greens, something fruity – supper or lunch for several days/nights.
It took me more time to write this down then to make and eat it.
And thus goes another ordinary day.